Swedish Cardamon Bread

By • January 29, 2011 • 12 Comments

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Author Notes: Every year when I bake Swedish Cardamom bread for our Christmas morning brunch, I wonder why I reserve it for Christmas alone. It is beautiful, relatively easy to make, and tastes so tender and delicious. This recipe comes from my Swedish grandmother.

This bread features cardamon prominently. The key is to grind the cardamom seeds just before adding to dough. (Do not use pre-ground cardamom powder. It is not the same.) I like to hull the pods, then grind the seeds in a mortar and pestle until they are fine, but still contain some larger chunks (think pre-ground pepper and course pepper ground in your mill for a size comparison). The courser bits add a flavorful crunch when biting the bread.

This bread starts with scalded milk that is mixed with butter, sugar, salt, and cardamon. The milk and butter base makes for an exceptionally tender bread. The dough is left to rise and then braided into beautiful loaves that are then topped with Swedish pearl sugar.
My Pantry Shelf

Makes 2 loaves

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cardamon
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons Swedish Pearl Sugar
  • 1 egg white
  1. Combine sugar, salt, and butter in a medium size bowl. Scald the milk and pour over the mixture. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and mixture has cooled slightly.
  2. Crush cardamon using a mortar and pestle until it resembles course black pepper. Add to the scalded milk mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, sprinkle yeast on warm water, stir to dissolve.
  4. In a large bowl, combine milk mixture, egg, yeast mixture, and 1 cup of flour. Beat well until smooth. Add remaining flour until dough is still supple, but not sticky. Knead 5 minutes (or less if you are using a mixer).
  5. Remove dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled (1 hour or so).
  6. Punch down and let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Divide dough into 6 equal parts.
  8. With your hands, make dough balls into ropes approximately 12 inches long. (The key to a nice looking braid is starting with the same amount of dough in each rope and making the ropes the same length and width.)
  9. Take 3 of the ropes and line up parallel to each other. Pinch the tops of the ropes together. Braid the dough from the top down. When you get to the bottom, pinch together the base and tuck under the bread. (If you don’t like the look of the top of the braid, at this point you can go back and redo the top). Redo with last 3 dough balls.
  10. Place braids on a baking sheet, leaving room for them to rise. Cover braids and a let rise 45 minutes. Brush with egg white mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water. This will create a nice shiny crust. Sprinkle with the pearl sugar.
  11. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaves 40-50 minutes. Cover with foil the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.
  12. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Jump to Comments (12)

Tags: baking, bread, Holidays

Comments (12) Questions (0)

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6 months ago DanaP

my grandmother would brush strong coffee over the bread when it came out of the oven and sprinkle sugar on top. sounds strange but it's soooo good.

Stringio

7 months ago Derald Bigelow

The spice is CARDAMOM......not CARDAMON.

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over 1 year ago Fujibob

Where do I get Swedish Pearl Sugar? Also can you add Saffron?

Karen_and_amy

over 1 year ago My Pantry Shelf

Fujibob-

I last found Swedish Pearl Sugar at Sur la Table. If you don't have one nearby, I am sure you could order it from them or another online retailer. It is a bit of an uncommon ingredient, but the effect is worth the effort to track it down.
As far as the saffron is concerned, I have not tried it. This bread really sings tribute to cardamom, which is one of the reasons I love it. If you do try adding saffron, let us know how it comes out!

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almost 2 years ago Daisy123

Hi- In the list of ingredients you list 1 egg and 1 egg white. I see the the white is for brushing. . .when do you add the 1 egg?

Karen_and_amy

almost 2 years ago My Pantry Shelf

Daisy,
Oops, you are right! I edited the recipe to correct the error. Add the egg on step 4.

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almost 2 years ago jenniferp

Can I make the dough the day before and bake it off in the morning?

Karen_and_amy

almost 2 years ago My Pantry Shelf

Jennifer,
I have not tried it, so I can't be sure. I would recommend making the dough and putting it in the fridge after you braid it. Take it out in the morning and allow to rest on the counter for at least an hour to come to room temp and then bake. Another option would be to slightly underbake it the day before and then finish it off in the morning. If you try it, let us know how it works! I love this bread :)

Ozoz_profile

almost 4 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

I need to get my baking act together to make some pulla

Me

almost 4 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Wonderful! Looks delicious!

Bike2

almost 4 years ago Sagegreen

Lovely!

Stringio

almost 4 years ago testkitchenette

Beautifully done!